Friday, November 15, 2019

An Eulogy...

My sister passed away exactly 1 year ago today. She fought with stage 4 cancer for 40 months. She was a brave woman. She talked of the disease openly, and I never saw her cry once during her battle with cancer, except on her deathbed...

It took me a long time to accept this fact and I sort of avoided family events because of this. It took me a year or so after knowing her illness before I started to meet her privately, mostly during afternoon day-offs from work. I would spend the afternoon accompanying her to her children's football and netball matches.

As the days gone by, whereby I think she had an idea that her days were up, she kept repeating the same words to me during our afternoon meet-ups, "Look at me, I have all this money but cannot do/eat/go"... She would encourage me to do the things I want to do, go travel, try new hobbies, eat my favourite dishes and spend money in general~

She was a saint in my eyes in many ways. Even if I try, I cannot find major flaws in what she did with her life. A fair mother, great temperament, very very few vices and well-liked by everyone. During her funeral I met many of her ex-colleagues and friends. Some of them I knew from many years ago, some of them whom I met for the very first time. All had only nice things to say about her. Many didn't know of her illness and were shocked to know that she's been living with it for years. I guess its attributed to her kind nature as well. Didn't want to be the centre of attention and didn't want to overly bother other people (Common trait in the family)...

The initial months of her passing was tough for me, to the extent I had to see a shrink. I would suddenly cry uncontrollably and I simply couldn't function. That's not to say its alright now. I still break down in tears once in a while, but I manage to keep it to periods when I'm alone... or I'll just rush to the nearest restroom.

I think of her from time to time, especially during the mornings when I take the short walk from bus-stop to office. Back when she was hospitalized, I would use that time to send her a WhatsApp message to check up on her as well as chitchat with her. Now I will look up at the sky and hope that she's in a better place without pain...

I have my regrets. I wished I've made that trip to Japan with her. Or anywhere else for that matter. That regret is never going to be resolved as she's here no more. End of this year I will bring her kids to Bintan... and that's probably the best thing I can do for now... I'm also traveling alot this year, fulfilling a promise that I will do whatever I want while I still can.

And thanks to her I've went to 2 rounds of endoscopy scan in the last 3 years, in which both scans resulted in benign polyps which could turn bad. I guess in a way she saved my life...

Thanks for taking care of me all these years. You're a fantastic sister and a friend... Let's be siblings again in our next lives... Hopefully I'll be the elder one next time and I'll take care of you... 

Friday, October 11, 2019

Japan Kansai-Kanazawa-Kinosaki Drive - Part 4

Day 5
It's all about Takayama today~ Its a drive to Takayama Old Town, then to our onsen hotel for the night in the middle of Hida-Takayama~

The drive today is short and easy, which gives us more than ample time to enjoy the streets of Takayama Old Town as well as an early check-in so we can have a nice outdoor onsen dip after we check in.
Hello Takayama~

I really enjoyed Takayama~ It's got such old world charm but everything was so clean and neat~ The best thing I enjoyed about Takayama was the streetfood! Wah seh~ The amount of delicious street food this place managed to squeeze into one stretch basically caused us to have our lunch while standing up~ LOL~

1. Hida Beef meat bun for a start~

2. Beef Croquette next!

3. Skewered BBQ Beef~ Yum!

4. Beef Stew~

5. Hida Beef Burger!

6. Finished off with Pudding from this shop!

The cold weather really helped with the appetite~ but it also helped with the walking after the food~ Clean, flat and neatly organized streets made it such a joy to talk around the old streets and taking in the sights and atmosphere. Along the way there was a few shops that offered free sake/miso soup so we gladly obliged~

J fascinated by the small fishes in the drain... the water was very clear!

We spent around 3 hours in Takayama before we continued our journey to our hotel for the night~ As we drove deeper into Hida-Takayama, the scenery started to change~

Our lodging for the night was at 奥飛騨温泉郷 穂高荘 山月 (Hodakaso Sangetsu)

Now the thing about this hotel... is the fact that it has a mixed outdoor onsen! (One more item on the bucket list checked!)

The outdoor onsen is situated on one side of the valley so it offers a magnificent view of the opposite mountains~

And as with all onsen lodging in Japan, its the dinner I look forward to the most~

For this stay package, it also came with A5-ranked Hida beef~

And we were still in time for some Ayu 鮎 fish!

After dinner all of us were so satisfied and tired that no one tempted to venture outside to challenge the outdoor onsen for one more time~  We did take a stroll outside the hotel and it was starting to snow. And that gave us the sight below:


Breakfast was just as wow~  but unfortunately I was still trying to digest the food from the previous day...

After breakfast we still had some time before checking out so we took a walk outside the hotel. The scenery of the entire place basically changed overnight~ The fresh snow with the last of the autumn leaves gave the place very fresh and vibrant colors~ Everybody loved the cool crisp air~

Next stop will be Shirakawa-go and Kanazawa!

See the rest of the trip below:

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

J’s bowling update - October 2019

In the nearly 2 months we've started 2-handed bowling with J, we have seen a remarkable improvement in his game. Below were the scores from the 2 competition he took part in recently:

Novice Challenge 
18th Aug 2019
Ah Poh’s Funbowl
6th Oct 2019

In the 2 years he's been bowling, I've felt that his performances and scores were stagnant in recent months. And with the 2-handed curriculum, I thought it was going to be frustrating for everyone as well. But on and off we bowl with him on his one-handed bowling and we see better performance, more confidence and higher scores~

Learning to bowl with 2 hands have definitely helped him with his performance.

  • Playing with 2 hands gave him a better feel of the ball 
  • His strength has improved since he started 2-handed bowling
  • It's so difficult for him that he appreciate the simplicity of 1-handed bowling now
I think it's the same for me. I've been playing around with 2-handed bowling but when he started his 2-handed curriculum, I took note of the coaching and tried to follow the steps as much as possible. Now I feel that both my 1-handed and 2-handed games have improved~ 

I'm looking forward to his progress in the coming months and really hoping he can hit the target of 140 average by next year!

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Japan Kansai-Kanazawa-Kinosaki Drive - Part 3

Day 4
The plan for today was to make our way from Kyoto to Gero Onsen. A straight drive would have been 3.5 hours but I chose a detour for our route which will bring us to Hikone Castle and Nagahama city.

Along the way we made our way across the Biwako Ohashi Bridge. Lake Biwa is the largest freshwater lake in the whole of Japan. On this cloudy day we even saw a rainbow as we drove along the East coast side of the lake towards Hikone Castle and Nagahama City.

Driving over the Biwako Ohashi Bridge
After nearly 2 hours we finally reached our first checkpoint for the day, Hikone Castle!

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Though not as glamorous or popular as Kumamoto or Himeji castle, Hikone Castle is actually one of 5 castles to be designated as a national treasure and one of 12 original castles still standing.  It is located beside Lake Biwako and took all of 20 years to build! Given its awkward location, I figured this was the only chance I would get to visit this castle, and I'm glad I made the trip! It's a charming little castle and it simply blows my mind to think how people in those days manage a 20-year construction project! LOL~

The streets of Nagahama

After the castle visit, we made our way to Nagahama city for some lunch. We checked Trip Advisor and the #1 restaurant in the area was Yokaro. By the time we reached the restaurant there was already a small queue in front of the restaurant... I guess #1 ranking does bring in the crowds~

Friday, October 4, 2019

Neon Pigeon - Food Review

It was a regular Friday evening and the missus wanted to try something new. So I brought her to Neon Pigeon. It was new to her but not new to me! \(^O^)/

Located at 1 Keong Saik Road, the restaurant is on the 1st floor of a pre-war shophouse. The interior design is modern and classy, but due to the low ceiling and loud music, it can get really irritating after 7pm when the crowd starts pouring in~

The main reason why I go back to Neon Pigeon is not so much the atmosphere but more of the food~ I like their twist on various dishes which offers me a taste I've never had before. And their offer small or large size servings for most of their dishes so its great if you want to try a bit of everything!

Tokyo Hummus - $9/$16 (Small and Large size)

Sakoshi Bay Oyster - $16/$30

Miso Roasted Eggplant - $12/$22

Fried Octopus - $22/$42

Roasted Bone Marrow - $19/$36

Charcoal fired Rump - $25/$48

Atmosphere at Neon Pigeon was cosy and intimate... until 7pm... Once the crowd starts coming in, combined with the louder-than-required background music, and you get a surrounding thats good for a rowdy night out with the boys but not so nice date night~

Food was good. The twist on the various dishes and the option of small or large serving gave me more reason to try many different dishes.

Price was a bit on the high side considering the small portions are roughly around $20 on average. But I guess the quality and variation of the food means that I will continue to pay the inflated prices once every 6-12 months...